Rethinking Innovation and Design


Book Title:     Rethinking Innovation and Design For Emerging Markets: Inside the Renault Kwid Project
Author:  Christophe Midler, Bernard Jullien, Yannick Lung
Publisher:  Auerbach Publications
List Price:   $59.95
Format:  Hard cover, 164 pages
Publication Date:   May 15, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-138-03720-5
Reviewer:     Stephen Fierbaugh, PMP
Review Date:   10/2017



Coming up with new methods of design and manufacture to reach the “next billion” has wide application across a variety of consumer products.  Too often, Emerging Markets just get the hand-me downs, rejects, or old tooling from North America or Europe.  To truly reach the emerging markets will require creativity on an industrial scale.

Rethinking Innovation and Design for Emerging Markets is a case study of the inexpensive Renault Kwid automobile, successfully developed in and for the Indian market.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The first half of the book is a conventional case study of the Kwid project.  Because I knew little of automotive industrial design, this part of the book was very informative.  The Renault and Nissan alliance created a project to build a vehicle tailored for the Indian market.  It had a target price of one-half of the price of most small vehicles in the market.

The second half of the book is an exploration of the “fractal innovation” strategy pursued by the project team.  It is heavily documented with references to prior studies and academic papers.

This book is an English translation from the French, Innover à l’envers, repenser lat stratégie et la conception dans un monde frugal (Dunod, 2017, EAN13: 9782100759880).  That occasionally gives rise to awkward turns of phrase such as, “…inspired by the Indian success of the Duster, which had just been launched in India.” (p12)

About half of the charts in the book are Powerpoint slides whose readability suffers from their resizing and lack of color.  This is especially noticeable in the first half of the book.


The Kwid retails in India for about $3500, and is far nicer than anything similarly priced.  In order to achieve astonishing target price goals, a fundamental paradigm shift had to occur in the way that Renault designs and develops automobiles.

The first change is that most vehicles are developed at headquarters design centers featuring an long development cycle and a cast of hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled engineers, then are frozen and transferred to a manufacturing team to develop unchanged.  The Kwid team worked as a much smaller independent team with authority to challenge any corporate regulations.

Based in India, the team was able to practice fractal innovation and frugal engineering.  Fractal innovation means reconsidering every cost and engineering structure at every level, both large and small; nothing was considered sacred or off-the-table.  Frugal engineering means designing to cost rather than the other way around.  The team considered the tiniest changes to reduce costs, involved engineering early, and kept simplifying designs much later than typical in the manufacturing cycle.


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About the Reviewer

Stephen Fierbaugh, PMP

Texas, USA


Stephen Fierbaugh has a MA in Intercultural Studies with a focus on ICT and is a Project Management Professional (PMP).  He leads global teams and projects facing challenging partnerships and cross-cultural or remote participation.

Stephen can be contacted at [email protected] 


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